In a phone call back to the New York Times, President Barack Obama explained that he is not a socialist, and that his administration is behaving in a market based way, which he added is more than the people who are calling him a socialist have done in the past.
Here is the audio of the call:
Obama called the paper to clarify why he didn’t answer a question about Republicans calling him a socialist. He said that he didn’t think that the reporter was serious about the question. I found it most interesting that Obama took a shot at the previous Republican leadership by saying, “It wasn’t under me that we started buying a whole bunch of shares in banks. It wasn’t on my watch, and it wasn’t on my watch that we passed a massive new entitlement, the prescription drug plan, without a source of funding. It is important just to note when you start hearing folks throw these words around that we have actually been operating in a way that is entirely consistent with free market principles, and that some of the same folks who are throwing the word socialist around can’t say the same thing.”
Obama did decline to mention Bush by name, and he also said that his actions in the crisis have nothing to do with his ideological preferences, and more to do with the current situation. Obama is more than correct in pointing out that these same Republicans who passed the prescription drug benefit are now calling Obama a socialist. I don’t know how much mileage Obama will get out of blaming the Republicans for this mess. I think he has about a year before people will expect things to get better.
Nobody except the die hard right wingers believes that Obama is a socialist. In contrast to what Republicans are trying to spread, Obama has acted in line with market principles. He is refusing to nationalize the banks, even though most Americans are in favor of it. He is demanding more corporate accountability in return for federal bailout money. The socialist tag is just another attempt at a political buzzword to scare support away from the Democratic Party. I highly doubt that this strategy will be effective.